Mar 11, 2014 News
General Secretary (GS) of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Clement Rohee, has announced that experts have been flown in to the country to address the inefficient and sometimes non responsive emergency contact system, 911.
Rohee, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, said during a press briefing yesterday at Freedom House, that Cabinet approved a “tidy sum”, more than US$20,000 to acquire experts out of the United States to address this issue since there is no capacity at the national level to do so.
According to Rohee, “Apparently we don’t have the capacity internally in Guyana at the national level to correct this deficiency and so I thought it was necessary to bring persons from outside.”
Rohee said that two experts came for five days and carried out their assessments at the various police stations. They also engaged other stake holders.
“I had announced some time ago that the Ministry of Home Affairs has brought some experts/ specialists to Guyana to examine the defects in the 911 system. They were here in Guyana last week, I met with them… They are from the United States, brought through a consultancy firm from one of the Caribbean Countries.”
He further said that these are experts who have dealt with other 911 systems in the world and they have done the necessary research so they know what to look for. Rohee added that a report was done, however he was not able to peruse it since he was out of town.
“So I am waiting with great anticipation on the report. I felt that it was necessary to bring them here at a great cost for them to do some rectification of the 911 system because the complaints were numerous. We couldn’t just sit on our hands and do nothing about it,” said Rohee.
The experts proposed the use of a single consolidated number which is being used in a number of other countries to trigger emergency services.
“They have proposed this; it has not been agreed to because it’s a recommendation to consider where for example, if it’s a fire you call the same number, or a police request you call the same number, if there is accident you call the same number.
“They have put up some proposals they told me they will put, which I haven’t seen as yet but will have to study and agree whether we keep a 911 separate from 912 or whatever the case might be” said Rohee.
This comes as a counter measure to address the reports of residents who have been complaining about their emergency calls especially to 911 going unanswered.
Just recently an early morning fire in Deobrian Street, Prashad Nagar consumed a house leaving its occupants homeless, Kaieteur News was informed that attempts to contact the 911 number went unanswered.
Rohee had in December last year expressed frustration at the 911 telephone service and promised to facilitate a meeting with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), the Police, other Home Affairs officials and stakeholders so that the issue can be rectified.
He had said that the problem might be technological in nature since he said he knew that it was not a problem with clerical staff because there are enough ranks to respond to calls in the police force.
Back in 2009 the police force came under heavy criticism in the wake of the Abary River tragedy in which three people drowned. Lone survivor, Ms Tara Mattai, an overseas-based Guyanese had claimed that in her quest to help her drowning relatives, she had used her cellular phone to call 911. She said that she called about 25 times before her call was received.
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